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Friday, 2 March, 2001, 11:02 GMT
Does Europe's future lie with the US?
The European Commission have admitted that the EU's 15 member states are "divided" on what stand to take on Friday's British-US air raids on Baghdad.Disclaimer: The BBC will put up as many of your comments as possible but we cannot guarantee that all e-mails will be published. The BBC reserves the right to edit comments that are published.
Division and confusion seem to be symptomatic of the bloc's attitude to controversial moves made by the United States.
EU member states are often critical of actions of their transatlantic partner but when it comes to concrete action their resolve seems to disappear.
In the light of recent disagreements, does Europe's future lie with the United States?
The Europewide debate put this question to Charles Grant, Director at the London-based Centre for European Reform and Jacques Reland, Head of French Studies at London Guildhall University.
A selection of your comments will be read out on Europe Today on the BBC World Service Mondays to Thursdays at 1729 GMT.
Given the trend toward globalisation, Europe and the US will definitely continue to have close ties. With European integration and the emergence of a European defence force, I'm sure these ties will be on a more equal basis in the future than in the past. Here's a word of advice to the Europeans: As you continue to integrate and federalise, please take a look over to this side of the "big pond" and note the successes and failures of our own federal experiment.
If people think that by uniting in economic union and opening markets in Europe with the single currency, the European countries would realise huge economic benefits for themselves, just think about the benefits the union between the US and EU with a single cross Atlantic currency would bring!
Rodrigo, Spain/ Netherlands
For Europe to 'stand on its own feet' we would need to become FAR more united. This would enable the formation of a proper military structure. It would also need an increase in military expenditure and perhaps the junking of some highly regarded social policies to help pay for this. Personally I find attractive and repulsive elements about both Europe and the USA. If a referendum was held in the UK between NAFTA and the EU I wonder which would win?
I strongly believe in European self defence capability, but only if there is dialogue and common understanding among all countries. Europe has the power of wisdom, there is no need for US help anymore. Help yourself and you will be better off and more secure than any other place on earth.
John Dyson, USA
With its embryonic institutions (albeit a huge bureaucracy), internally conflicting interests and lack of a universally-accepted concept about its future, the only thing that holds the EU together is the set of socio-economic values brought from the US after WWII. As harsh as it may sound to some Europeans, the US is not simply an external factor, but rather one of vital importance for the Union's political and economic stability and further development.
I think it would be a shame if the US and Europe do not work together for the common good. There are so many good things each has to offer. To let miscommunication or animosity ruin good relations would be a travesty. Of course, we are different, but that is what makes us interesting.
We know that we depend on other countries politically and economically. Why is it such a horrible thing for other countries to depend on us? The big news flash here is that all countries depend on each other to some degree. We don't want to rule, control, or police the world. As President Bush said in a debate, "I don't think we should say this is the way we do it, so should you." All we want is free trade.
Dr Max Papadopoulos, Canada
The US can teach the Europeans how to be more competitive, uninhibited, and technologically savvy. Whereas the Europeans could really add a dose of culture and sophistication that is sorely needed in the US. In short, our destinies are intertwined.
I'm speaking from experience, being a Canuck that is. I am sorely regretful that my country's future is so strongly tied with that of the United States. Moreover, I'm envious of Europe; you guys could be the next major superpower if you worked together. The US, China, Japan, they wouldn't stand a chance. At least you guys have that. When the US finally takes the plunge they're going to drag Canada down with them.
It is certainly possible to disagree on
international issues yet still remain
closely tied to each other. There are
often philosophical differences between
the approaches used on various issues
but rarely on the ultimate goals of these
actions or positions. Each of the approach
philosophies are founded in the experience
of each "side". I think that the similarities
in values are often lost in the divergence in
approach to solving problems.
Our future lies together and will even be closer in the future. The rise of China (1.2 billion people) and India (soon 1.5 billion) will dwarf us eventually and push us even more towards each other than is already the case. I foresee a balanced relationship in the future though, or even a relationship dominated by the EU. Not because we are better, just because we have more people here and therefor a bigger economic and military potential.
The relationship is give and take, a continual competition in a commercial and ideological sense. European unity, per se, is an ideal, not a practical reality. Europeans will never abandon their individual identities or self interests, nor should they. They merely need to communicate a "common" voice vis-à-vis security, trade and social policy. However, America shares an equally diverse populace with regional and ideological divisions. Disagreement is healthy and constructive and Europe and America will agree when they can and will disagree according to their own self-interests. Undeniably, we are inter-dependent in cultural, economic and military activities. But that link is voluntary and dependent on mutual self-interest and respect. Neither side needs to submit to the rule of the other.
America is a necessary evil at the moment for the EU and as such Europe would find it hard to survive without that country. If Europe does get itself together to provide a "union" then the US will become less and less important for the stability of the EU. It strikes me as a change that will never happen as there is little, if any, pride in the EU from its subjects.
I'm loathed to join the anti-Americanism prevalent in Europe at the moment. However, the simple fact is that Europe and America have divergent foreign policy goals. I believe Europe should not be constantly tarred by American foreign policy faux pas. If anything America needs Europe more than Europe needs the USA. A united Europe has a larger population and larger GDP than the US. So why should we be so fearful to have a separate voice in world issues?
Ben Erwin, USA
Europe divided over relations with the US? You mean Great Britain undecided while the other 14 of us want a united, strong and independent Europe? It is so unfortunate that Britons still foolishly hope for an empire under their rule through a union with the US, when in reality they only spoil a feasible dream for the rest of us.
As an American, I am shocked by the arrogance with which some of my countrymen have addressed this question. Yes, America and Europe have very close ties, economically, militarily and culturally; but Europe is not and will never be a "part" of the US. Anyone who believes this knows little about European peoples. As for Europe learning from the US, I often find myself thinking quite the opposite. My own opinions of the recent Iraqi bombing and Star Wars, for examples, put me more in line with French or Russian leadership.
Ever since Bush Jr was elected President all I have heard out of the European media is how isolationist the US is becoming. However, when one looks at the latest military, economic, and social moves made by the EU we see that it is Europe that is trying to isolate itself.
At least the UK and US actually do something. So far the contribution of our alleged allies in the EU has amounted to backstabbing and criticism. So much for them.
Time and time again the EU has proved itself to be weak and unable to cope.
Why should we have to follow an EU foreign policy? We are still an independent country and it is not for the EU to decide who, how or when we fight. After all if it was left to the EU Kuwait would still be part of Iraq and we would be begging Saddam to give us some oil.
For some reason at the moment the media is obsessed with the notion that Britain is weak. It is not. We have a potent and functioning nuclear arsenal, competent armed and special services as well as a powerful and vibrant economy.
All Britain needs to do is believe in herself like we used to.
Maxx P, USA
Europe's future does lie with the US, but many Americans fail to realise that our future lies with Europe as well. How can we both live without each other? Both sides of the pond have deep ties economically, but Europeans must stand firm on certain issues. The one thing we Americans fear is a united world acting against us. Europeans must realise, that many people in the States opposed the recent Iraqi debacle, and isolating the US would only hinder the opposition in this country, and give the war hawks greater reason to spread paranoia.
Incidentally, does anyone know if the US still has to ask British permission before using atomic weapons (and vice versa)? They signed an agreement to this effect at the start of the Manhattan Project, and I assume it's still in force...
The USA may be a hegemonic power at the moment, but a united Europe would be able to and should stand up for its own interests. In an increasingly global economy of course the USA is going to be a major factor but it should not be a controlling one.
Europe should not have to follow the US line and forge separate foreign policies. It is stable enough not to require American assistance and economically, it is powerful enough to survive by itself. Better this than foolishly following America and its dangerous foreign policies in the Middle East and of Star Wars.
Why are we always following the American line when it comes to foreign policy? The EU should have the self-belief to stand up to the US as a united organisation and think for itself.
Of course the future of Europe lies with the US, how can it not?? The US is a large and powerful country across the Atlantic. Europeans need to continue to have strong ties with us for economic and even military reasons. The European Union should not isolate itself from the US, rather it could learn quite a bit from us!
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